A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fast-paced crime film depicts a constant stream of convivial criminality and bad behavior, including stealing, shooting, extortion, bribery, money laundering, gambling, drug and alcohol use, and more. As bloody and painful as some of it gets, director Guy Ritchie and his cast make it all look like great fun, too -- which makes for a great caper film but doesn't exactly convey any lessons above and beyond the code of the streets. Expect non-stop swearing and smoking, as well as frank depictions of drug use, violence, and more.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In present-day London, a group of low-level criminals known as "The Wild Bunch" is in debt to Lenny (Tom Wilkinson), the king of London's underground -- who's also trying to serve as the go-between as a Russian crime lord tries to get government approval for a new building project. At the same time, the Russian's beautiful accountant is setting him up to be robbed by The Wild Bunch, and Lenny's degenerate, drug-addicted rock star stepson has faked his own death to both get away from it all and boost his record sales.
Is it any good?
Shot on digital video, RocknRolla has a loose, fun feel to it. That's largely due to Gerard Butler's charming work as lead gangster "One-Two" and Mark Strong's work as classy crook Archie. ROCKNROLLA marks a return to form for writer-director Guy Ritchie, who burst onto the scene with the stylish, Tarantino-influenced crime films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. But recent years have seen Ritchie mentioned more for his marriage to Madonna than his films, so RocknRolla's mix of crime and comedy is a welcome reminder of what he can do when he does what he does best.
Other standouts in the cast include Toby Kebell, who plays burnt-out rock musician/junkie Johnny Quid; Kebell conveys the desperation, elation, squalor, and sleaze of serious crack addiction in a way that makes his bit part the soul of the film. Ritchie has a real flair for cartoon violence -- a robbery-fight-chase scene plays out as blood-soaked hilarity -- which means that RocknRolla is a higher grade of high-gloss caper-crime-comedy film. Ritchie has suggested that there'll be a series of films with these characters, and while it's hard to imagine anyone crying out for that as a matter of necessity after seeing RocknRolla, at least this film is a fun ride while you're watching it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of crime cinema, particularly stylized crime comedies like this one. Can you successfully mix laughs with a body count? Can a movie with murder in it be taken as lightly as this one would like to be? Families can also discuss the negative consequences of drug addiction, as depicted in this film with startling frankness. How realistic do you think the portrayal is?
- In theaters: October 10, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: January 27, 2009
- Cast: Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Tom Wilkinson
- Director: Guy Ritchie
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language, violence, drug use and brief sexuality.